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IN this book I have tried only to communicate my opinions,
which I have arrived at after some long and painful thought
and reading and introspection. I have not tried to enter into
arguments or prove my different theses, but I will stand
justified or condemned by this book, as Confucius once said of
his Spring and Autumn Annals. China is too big a country, and
her national life has too many facets, for her not to be open to
the most diverse and contradictory interpretations. And I
shall always be able to assist with very convenient material
anyone who wishes to hold opposite theses. But truth is truth
and will overcome clever human opinions. It is given to man
only at rare moments to perceive the truth, and it is these
moments of perception that will survive, and not individual
opinions. Therefore, the most formidable marshalling of
evidence can often lead one to conclusions which are mere
learned nonsense. For the presentation of such perceptions,
one needs a simpler, which is really a subtler, style. For truth
can never be proved; it can only be hinted at.

It is also inevitable that I should offend many writers about
China, especially my own countrymen and great patriots.
These great patriots—I have nothing to do with them, for
their god is not my god, and their patriotism is not my patriot-
ism. Perhaps I too love my own country, but I take care to conceal
it before them, for one may wear the cloak of patriotism to
tatters, and in these tatters be paraded through the city streets
to death, in China or the rest of the world.

I am able to confess because, unlike these patriots, I am
not ashamed of my country. And I can lay bare her troubles
because I have not lost hope. China is bigger than her little
patriots, and does not require their whitewashing. She will,
as she always did, right herself again.

Nor do I write for the patriots of the West. For I fear more
their appreciative quotations from me than the misunder-